By James F. Tracy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 15, 1998

Nike's labor practices belie 'progressive' image

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the "aditorial" printed on Apr. 8 by Nike spokesperson Vada Manager ("Setting the record straight on Nike"). I am unaware of Manager being a member of the university community and, given his pecuniary interest, am at a loss as to why his slick PR blurbs would even be included as valid opinion in a newspaper that has the least bit of editorial integrity.

Manager's correction of Craig Anderson's Mar. 24 article ("Documentary portrays Nike CEO negatively ") is also unfounded. Anderson merely repeated what The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, several independent human rights groups and now ESPN ("Outside the Lines." Apr. 2) have already confirmed: Nike pays its predominantly teenage female workforce overseas less than livable wages and requires that it work in hazardous conditions where corporal punishment is the norm.

Manager's letter exhibits the desperation that the Nike company is presently experiencing in attempting to salvage its hip and "progressive" image. Nike insists on defending its frequent labor abuses and refusal to allow independent monitoring with "studies" bought and paid for by its public relations department. Studies, mind you, that have already been laughed at and reviled by much of the mainstream press and academic community because of their shoddy methodology and sordid intent. Yet Nike is still able to convince some would be intellectuals like Peter Likins and Jim Livengood that it is "the lead[er] in the industry on this issue" by proffering such nonsense.

Those who would prefer additional proof of Nike and Nike CEO Phil Knight's duplicity should see Michael Moore's new film, "The Big One." Half of the film's profits will go to aiding the poor in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan. A town, by the way, where Knight refused to open a Nike plant, haughtily asserting that "Americans don't want to make sneakers."

James F. Tracy
Students Against Sweatshops
Media Arts Graduate Student


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